Today many of us will don our red poppies and pause at 11.00am to remember those who served our country to defend the freedoms and values that mark our democracy. Our College led by our students gathered to ensure their sacrifice was not forgotten.
Remember with clear eyes the uncountable cost of war.
Remember with deep sorrow those who killed and were killed.
Remember with grief the blood-stained battlefields.
Remember with horror the destroyed neighbourhoods.
Remember with tears the trail of people fleeing their homeland.
Remember with compassion the bereaved and the wounded.
Remember with reverence those who risked their lives for peace.
Remember with tenderness the children’s longing for freedom.
Remember with gratefulness all who found a way to forgive their enemies.
Remember with hope the kingdom that is planted with small seeds.
Remember with confidence that faith, hope and love abide.
Remember with joy that our Saviour is the Prince of Peace.
Yesterday I met with our incoming College Co Captains and I was asking them how they felt after their first experience of VCE exams. I was interested, and pleased, to hear them say how they realized they knew more than they thought. Many of our students have shared similar feelings as we check in with them when they conclude their various exams each day.
As we come to the end of our academic year and our Year 10 and 11 students prepare for exam week starting Monday 21 November, I thought it might be useful to share with families some thinking around supporting our students through this period of time.
It is helpful to remind our students that a level of stress can be helpful. In fact, I listened intently as our Psychology students talked about ‘eustress’, the healthy stress, before their exam. We don’t come to school to stay as we are, to not move forward. We come to school to be challenged and to learn. A little like going to the gym to get fit. If our muscles don’t hurt a little then we haven’t shifted our level of fitness. Learning should make us feel a little uncomfortable and then as we move through this we become more capable and stronger in our learning. Look at what our young people have already achieved to get to this point. It is something we need to remind them of when they doubt themselves.
Further to thinking about good stress I have been interested in the concept of academic buoyancy (Martin and Marsh, 2009).
Academic buoyancy is developed as a construct reflecting everyday academic resilience within a positive psychology context and is defined as students’ ability to successfully deal with academic setbacks and challenges that are typical of the ordinary course of school life (e.g., poor grades, competing deadlines, exam pressure, difficult schoolwork).
There is a yellow buoy on the ocean side of the Barwon Heads bridge that has taken a pounding over the last few weeks with the increased flow of the river yet it stays firmly in place. Even when it is not dealing with the floodwaters it copes with the changing tide flows and weather patterns, not to mention the impact of boats passing by it day after day. It stays buoyant for many reasons, including its solid anchor. This might be a metaphor that you can use to share with your daughters about how they might get through this next period of time. A further concept from positive psychology that supports the notion of academic buoyancy is to broaden and build theory. This connects to the positive emotions (P) domain of the PERMAH model that we use at Clonard.
In the blog post by The Emotional Learner titled ‘From adversity to buoyancy’ Marc Smith writes:
The broaden-and-build framework would suggest an emphasis on building on strengths that nurture proactive rather than reactive approaches to setbacks and challenges, which could go some way to explaining why those students who experience positive emotions during daily setbacks are able to benefit from these broadened mindsets and regulate negative emotional experiences as well as view failure in more positive terms. Certain individuals are able to draw on positive emotions in times of stress and are consequently able to cope better with daily setbacks through the effective use of such emotions. Buoyant individuals are, therefore, better equipped to deal with the low-level hassles and negative experiences encountered on a daily basis within a school setting through a kind of positive academic-psychological capital. From adversity to buoyancy – The Emotional Learner
As further resource that might be helpful for you is one from the Alliance of Girls Schools Australasia which has a particular emphasis on the education of young women. It has some helpful tips on supporting teenagers through times of stress and meltdowns. I share the link with you for your reference.
Last night we welcomed our Year 7 families for 2023 to an Information Evening. We have 122 new families joining us in this cohort. Many of them have already shown a wonderful commitment to partnering with us having attended previous evenings on New Metrics for Success, our project with the University of Melbourne, Deep Learning, our learning design approach based on the work of Professor Michael Fullan and the introduction of Positive Behaviour for Learning. Last night Assistant Principal Jo Ryan shared our dreaming for a reimagined educational experience for students at Clonard that will commence with this cohort in 2023. This will include a new timetable with daily RE, Languages and Mathematics, new units of work designs using the Deep Learning framework, specifically designed interdisciplinary units of work, assessment in the New Metrics competencies and the introduction of ‘Growth Days’. This was well received by our families who shared their excitement about the opportunities this will present for their daughters moving forward.
Finally, I would like to extend an invitation to families to join us for our end of year celebration. This year we would like to welcome families to join us for our end of year Mass, followed by the running of the Tullow Gift and House Choir competition. Mass will commence at 9.15am followed by the Tullow Gift (foot race) and then House Choir concluding approximately 11.30am. To support us with organisational matters we ask that you RSVP to this event. An Operoo invitation will be sent to families next week. Please look out for this. Community and celebration are an important part of who we are and we are delighted to be able to offer this opportunity to our families.